Mennonite Women in Mexico

Vol. 10, No. 1

This issue, guest edited by poet and writer Abigail Carl-Klassen, focuses on the art and writing of women from the Mennonite colonies in Mexico. Carl-Klassen, along with Anna Wall and Veronika Enns, offered a panel at the conference "Crossing the Line: Women from Anabaptist Traditions Cross Borders and Boundaries" (June 2017, Eastern Mennonite University). From that panel, this issue--which also includes work by Kerry Fast--was born. A special thanks to Carl-Klassen for not only curating the issue, but conducting the interviews. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that Mennonite women artists from the Mexican colonies have been the featured focus in an English-language publication.

Our previous two issues have also featured work from the "Crossing the Line" conference":

Intersections (No.9, vol. 4, Fall 2017)

Writing Across Borders (No. 9, vol. 3, Summer 2017)

In this issue:

  • 0 read more Art, Migration and (Home)making: Mennonite Women, Mexico and ‘the World’

    Art, Migration and (Home)making: Mennonite Women, Mexico and ‘the World’

    by Abigail Carl-Klassen

    50 years after their arrival from Prussia in the 1870s, 7,000 Altkolonier (Old Colony) Mennonites left Manitoba and Saskatchewan to form new, more conservative colonies in northern Mexico, due to conflicts with the Canadian government concerning secularization and compulsory English language instruction mandates for colony schools. The Mexican government promised Old Colony communities educational autonomy and exemptions from military service in exchange for occupying and developing remote, yet contested, territory in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. The first colonies in the states of Chihuahua and Durango were established in 1922 and 1924 respectively and grew quickly as a result …

  • 0 read more Self-Portraits with the Flower Women (Las Mujeres Flores, Yo, and Eunice Adorno)

    Self-Portraits with the Flower Women (Las Mujeres Flores, Yo, and Eunice Adorno)

    by Abigail Carl-Klassen


    One time I watched Willy Zacharias’ mom lift a refrigerator above her shoulders and into the bed of an F150. Engalander teenage boys, friends of her son, stood stupid, slack jawed with a dolly and bungee cords in their fists, as she swatted them back with her neck. Wiping her hands in the pleats of her dress, she tipped her head back pursed her lips and said, well, guess I’ll get supper started.


    After supper, the men talked in the living room while Leah and I scraped the last bits of baked potato into the trash. Stacked …

  • 0 read more The Schekbenjel Goes for a Ride: Mennonite Settlements, Chihuahua, Late 1980s

    The Schekbenjel Goes for a Ride: Mennonite Settlements, Chihuahua, Late 1980s

    by Abigail Carl-Klassen

    I had me two girlfriends once. In different Darps but still close enough

    to walk. I'd visit one Sunday after church, then I'd visit the other one

    Sunday after supper. After I started working, just a Schekbenjel, but still

    making some dough, I saved up. Bought me a motorbike. Thought I was

    hot stuff cruisin' in and out of the Darps. I could go to a bunch of them

    now since I wasn't just walkin'. The bike was small but I was real

    fast. Kicking up dust like nobody's business. One Sunday, I'd blown

    off both of my girlfriends because …

  • 0 read more Watching Las Reinas: Escuela Secundaria, Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, 1990s

    Watching Las Reinas: Escuela Secundaria, Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, 1990s

    by Abigail Carl-Klassen

    I never got to be in the contest

    for the beauty queens even though I was

    nominated every year since I started

    school with the Mexicans. I bet

    I would have won too—everyone here

    is in love with rubias. I just got to bake

    cupcakes for the fundraiser. I didn't

    march in the Independence Day parade

    or dance folklórico either. My parents

    wrote letters saying it was against

    our religion, but I still had to help

    decorate during art class. I loved

    cutting out hearts and flowers for

    the floats and getting to use spray

    glitter. No matter how hard …

  • 0 read more Interview with Anna Wall

    Interview with Anna Wall

    by Anna Wall


    1. Tell us a little bit about your background.

    I grew up Old Colony Mennonite in Nuevo Ideal, Durango, Mexico. I have seven brothers and four sisters. I am the third oldest. My parents, all four of my sisters and one brother live in Mexico. Two of my sisters do seasonal work in Canada. I travel back to my colony in Mexico about once a year to visit.

    2. What was your community's relationship with storytelling, writing, and books?

    Storytelling in the forum of gossip was practiced incessantly in my community. Books and writing not so much; in fact, …

  • 0 read more Hopeless Mennonite

    Hopeless Mennonite

    by Anna Wall

    Since it was Saturday, and since when I threw the pen across the room, it got all dusty, I decided that it was time to clean my apartment with Pine Sol again. I put the TV on and just left it on a random channel as I began cleaning. That's when I realized that the smell of Pine Sol had an uplifting effect on me. That smell made me feel like I was still part of Mexico and my family.

    I thought about it and realized that whenever we had cleaned with Pine-Sol back home, we had had something to …

  • 0 read more Mennonite Girl gets a Sinking Feeling

    Mennonite Girl gets a Sinking Feeling

    by Anna Wall

    I got up and wiped the Mexican dust off my clothes from sliding down Izaak's car and went back inside. I was just going to open the box my mom had sent me when my phone rang. I thought, "Man, today went from 'Nothing to do,' to 'I can't catch a break.'"

    I answered the phone, and it was Bree. She had heard that a tobacco farm was looking for Mexican Mennonite workers and she thought of me.

    She said to be there by seven the next day and explained that it was just a few back roads behind the …

  • 0 read more Interview with Veronica Enns

    Interview with Veronica Enns

    by Verónica Enns


    1. Tell us a little bit about your background.

    I grew up in the Campos Menonitas of Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, in the early 80's isolated from the surrounding Mexican communities, amongst strict monopolies of Mennonite denominations who prohibited public education and all media and literature other than the Bible. Amongst a few cousins, I was one of the first to go to public school in a small Rancho were I learned Spanish and another culture. However, after secondary school, I was held home for three years before continuing high school due do religious limitations. Homemaking and helping with the …

  • 0 read more Veronica's Art

    Veronica's Art

    by Verónica Enns

    Veronica Fusion (bio pic)

    Photo taken by Raul Kigra 2016

    Adaptación, Three Mennonite Graces, June 2017 Acrylic on canvas, encaustic layer. As in the photograph she is installed with two head coverings used by Mennonite women the white before, the black after marriage.

    The little cups representing the innocent and playful childhoods we enjoy before growing up as adults. The colors in the painting are also playful and soft with outlines as in colored books.

    Red Suitcase, 2005

    Mixed techniques of found objects, …

  • 0 read more Breakfast on Sabinal

    Breakfast on Sabinal

    by Kerry Fast

    Breakfast on Sabinal I. Papaya and Hot Chocolate

    I never actually had papaya and hot chocolate for breakfast on Sabinal. I had it at Restaurant Constantino at the corner of Calle Minerva and Avenida Benito Juarez in the grid of dusty grey streets that makes up the Chihuahuan desert city of Nuevo Casas Grandes. Constantino is not a restaurant I'd highly recommend; a little bit dumpy, tables and chairs sprawled messily throughout the room. Nor would I vouch for the food except for the lime-soured papaya and the frothy hot chocolate.

    Sabinal is a small isolated Mennonite …